CPR Certification Classes: Choosing The Right One

CPR Certification Classes: Choosing the Right One

You’ve learned you need a CPR certification. However, you aren’t sure which one you need. And you don’t know if a certification from the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or another organization is the right choice. If you are frustrated, that is understandable — choosing the right CPR certification class can be very confusing!

Here are the four questions to ask yourself to ensure that you sign up for the right CPR certification class:

  1. Which CPR certification do I need: standard or healthcare provider?
  2. Do I need an AED certification as well?
  3. Does my CPR certification need to focus on infants and children?
  4. Should I choose the American Heart Association or American Red Cross?

Which CPR Certification Do I Need?

Most people need a standard CPR certification, often called CPR for the layperson. Professions that usually fall into this category are:

  • Teacher
  • Coach
  • Camp counselor
  • School bus driver
  • Personal trainer
  • Daycare worker
  • Babysitter
  • Nanny
  • Nursing home employee
  • Construction worker

Healthcare providers are required to take a more advanced CPR class. Professions that usually need a healthcare provider CPR certification are:

  • Nurse (RN)
  • Licensed vocational nurse (LVN)
  • Medical assistant
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Hospital technician
  • Dentist
  • Dental assistant
  • Paramedic
  • EMT
  • Firefighter
  • Physical therapist
  • Occupational therapist

Do I Need An AED Certification As Well?

Check to see if you also need to be certified to use an AED. AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator – a mobile defibrillator designed for the public to use. Most CPR classes include training on how to use an AED, but not all of them.  All American Heart Association CPR classes include AED training.

Do I Need An Infant And Child CPR Certification?

Some people need their CPR certification to focus on infants and children, such as foster parents or daycare workers. The American Red Cross can be very helpful for addressing this because they break their CPR classes into pediatric and adult components.  If you take an American Heart Association course it will include infant, child and adult CPR training.

Should I Choose The American Heart Association Or American Red Cross?

There are many organizations that will certify you in CPR, but usually the two preferred organizations are the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Red Cross (ARC). Some employers or regulatory organizations will also accept a certification from the American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI). If you are required to get a CPR certification, ask whomever requires it if they prefer a certification from the AHA or ARC. Some accept one, but not the other.

American Heart Association

This is the current list of CPR classes for the American Heart Association:

  • Heartsaver CPR AED – The CPR class for the public.  Includes infant, child and adult CPR and training to use an AED.  The infant portion can be excluded.
  • Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers – The CPR course for healthcare professionals. Because the class has a long name, you will see variations in how it’s listed, such as “BLS” or “CPR for Healthcare Providers.”

American Red Cross

American Red Cross breaks their classes into pediatric and adult components, which can be helpful and confusing. For example, they offer infant and child CPR as a single class called pediatric CPR.  This class may not include AED training.  Adult CPR may be taught as its own class. Classes with infant, child and adult CPR taught together are also offered.

The ARC healthcare provider course is called, “CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Health Care Providers.” Some healthcare employers, especially hospitals, do not accept this course to satisfy their requirements. Of course, check with your employer first.

Before you sign up for an ARC CPR class be sure you know exactly what components the class is covering.

Blended Learning

The American Heart Association now offers blended learning courses.  You take a portion of the course on-line, then make an appointment with an AHA training site to test your CPR skills to receive your CPR certification.  The on-line portion is roughly two hours and the in-person skills test takes about one hour.

If you have searched for a CPR class on the Internet, you’ve probably seen ads for on-line only CPR classes costing $19.95. Stay away from these! These are not AHA or ARC courses.  Most employers are not going to accept an on-line only course. And they shouldn’t. You need to practice the skills used to save a life, rather than only reading about the skills.

Signing Up For A Class

The AHA and ARC have upcoming classes listed on their websites: AHA classes; ARC classes. If you can’t find a class at the time and location you want, try a privately owned training company that can certify you with the AHA and ARC. Another option is to hire a private company to come to your home or business to teach an AHA or ARC class. These classes offer flexibility in scheduling and can often be less expensive for large groups.

About The Author:

Chris Schlesinger’s company In Home CPR teaches on-site safety classes at homes and businesses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, serving Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties.  He offers certifications through the American Heart Association and American Red Cross in CPR, BLS, AED, standard first aid and pediatric first aid.  Visit his websites at CPR Certification San Francisco or CPR Class San Mateo.

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